Recent hackers targeted South Africa to capture more Bitcoin. The amount was not large, but still enough to raise additional concern over the emerging asset class. The city of Johannesburg recently announced that hackers had taken over its systems. During the event, the hackers, who were calling themselves Shadow Kill Hackers, demand that the city pay them 4BTC if they wanted to regain control of their systems. Due to the hack, the city was forced to physically shut down most of its customer-facing services as it investigated the issue. The ransom that was being demanded by the hackers was worth about $38,000 at the time. 

About Johannesburg

This is the biggest city in South Africa. It is not the first time hackers are targeting the city. A while back, the city’s utility company announced that a virus had compromised its systems. This led to rolling blackouts that affected thousands of homes. In the current hack, the hackers are targeting private information of residents in the city.

The Hack

Once they had compromised the systems, the hackers left a message on the login screen. According to the message, the hackers claimed that they had compromised all of the city’s systems and they had numerous backdoor into the system. They also claimed that they were in control of all the city’s systems and they could shut everything down with a button. The message also claimed they had access to all passwords and sensitive financial data.

The hackers concluded by demanding 4BTC from the city or they would upload all the data they had to the internet. However, the city initially claimed no ransom had been demanded despite screenshots proving otherwise. The city’s spokesperson went on to claim that the resident’s data was safe. He said that the hack only affected the user level of the system and not the application level. As a result, the hackers had not managed to access any critical data. However, he said that they had shut down all systems as a safety precaution.

This is Not the First Such Case

This is not the first time hackers are demanding for a ransom from a city. In June 2019, the city of Riviera Beach in Florida agreed to pay a ransom of $600,000 in Bitcoins. At the time, the city paid 65 BTC to the hackers. The city took a vote and agreed that it was the only way to recover the data. Besides that, the city agreed to spend $1 million to buy new computers.

These hacks that demand to be paid in BTC present a unique problem for the crypto industry in general. It makes it easier for lawmakers to point at them and creates harsh legislation for the industry. It is important for law enforcement to work with various tools being developed in the industry to track and prosecute criminals using crypto. For one, tracing BTC is quite easy since it is not a privacy coin.

It is not yet clear if the city paid any ransom or they chose to work with experts to regain access to their systems. In general, it is never a good idea to pay hackers since there is no guarantee they will keep their word.

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